Speculative Practice in Architectural Education

An insight into Rice School of Architecture’s innovative and inspirational Totalization Studio program, preparing students for the quintessentially generalist task of their future profession



Title Information

Edited by Troy Schaum

1st edition

, 2019


288 pages, 116 color and 84 b/w illustrations

17 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-097-8

Architecture at Rice


Architecture is the quintessential generalist pursuit, requiring practical knowledge of geometry, technology, politics, history, culture, and economics, as well as an understanding how these disparate pieces fit together within the context of architectural practice. In short, an architect’s expertise lies in big picture constructs, or totalization.

The latest in the Rice Architecture series, Totalization shows the Rice School of Architecture’s Totalization Studios at the forefront of teaching students to leverage the breadth of architectural practice toward in-depth speculative design work. Can a building’s exterior be made of plastic? What is the twenty-first-century equivalent of the nineteenth-century steel frame? Can taking parts from a building for use elsewhere extend the building’s useful life? Exploring these and other questions in cooperation with four studios—three in Houston, one in Paris—the work collected here challenges conventions around structures; facades; materials; and the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing aspects of building design and construction. The ultimate aim of the Totalization Studios is to eliminate the distinction between speculation and practice in students’ final projects.

The Totalization Studios represent one of the most innovative and robust architectural programs—a source of inspiration for many other programs worldwide—and this book offers welcome insights into its teaching methods through featured projects.

With essays by Troy Schaum, Nat Oppenheimer, Mark Malekshahi, Doug Oliver and Will Cannady, Andrew Colopy, Mark Wamble, Oualalou + Choi and John Casabarian; a discussion with Nat Oppenheimer, interviews with Troy Schaum and Robert Heintges, and a conversation with Linna Choi and Tarik Oualalou. Afterword by Sarah Whiting.


Other titles in the Architecture at Rice series:

Seamless: Digital Collage and Dirty Realism in Contemporary Architecture

The Continuous City: Fourteen Essays on Architecture and Urbanization

Epics in the Everyday: Photography, Architecture, and the Problem of Realism

Nueva Vivienda: New Housing Paradigms in Mexico

System of Novelties: Dawn Finley and Mark Wamble, Interloop—Architecture

Authors & Editors

Will Cannady

John J. Casbarian

Linna Choi

Andrew Colopy



Robert Heintges

Mark Malekshahi

Douglas Oliver

Nat Oppenheimer

Tarik Oualalou

Troy Schaum

 is an Associate Professor at the Rice Architecture and a partner with New York City and Houston-based practice Schaum/Shieh.

Mark Wamble

Sarah Whiting